Brown dwarf stars are rare and remain a mystery to astrophysists. The stars are "brown" when viewed through a telescope because they cannot burn enough nuclear fuel to shine as brightly as other stars. A new study sheds a little more light.
Artist's impression of the newly discovered star WISE J085510.83-071442.5, the coldest known brown dwarf star.
Brown dwarfs are dim star-like bodies that lack the mass to burn nuclear fuel as other stars do.The new star is the fourth closest to our Sun, at 7.2 light-years from Earth.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Penn State University
Diagram illustrating the closest star systems to the Sun with dates discovered.
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, found two of the four closest systems: the binary brown dwarf WISE 1049-5319 and the brown dwarf WISE J085510.83-071442.5.
NASA/Penn State University
Surface map of Luhman 16B recreated from VLT observations. ESO's Very Large Telescope has been used to create the first ever map of the weather on the surface of the nearest brown dwarf to Earth. The figure shows the object at six equally spaced times as it rotates once on its axis
ESO / I. Crossfield
This image is an artist's conception of the binary system WISE J104915.57-531906 with the Sun in the background